Three Asian Spirits

The Difference Between Soju, Shochu, and Sake

Sake
Sake is most akin to beer, made with grains and fermented with yeast. Served cold, hot, or room temperature, there are a lot of ways to enjoy sake and, like beer, it offers a range of flavors. Traditionally, sake is served in ceramic flasks called tokkuri and poured into small cups called choko For hot sake, these vessels keep the liquid toasty, but they are also used with cold or room temperature sake, too. This beverage can be picked up at just about any Asian restaurant, including Mikasa Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar, Midori Fine Asian Cuisine, or Komachi Sushi. Komachi has a separate sake menu with large and small servings of hot or chilled sake to choose from.

Shochu
This ancient Japanese liquor dates back at least 500 years and can be made from sweet potatoes or barley. Like sake, it is similar to a beer as the koji mold breaks down the starch and ferments the beverage, but is classified as a distilled liquor. It is often ordered on the rocks but can also be used as a replacement liquor in many drinks. Some like that the ABV of shochu is low—a common charactertisic when comparing Asian liquors to American liquors—about 20-30 percent on ice or 12-15 percent in a mixed cocktail. At Komachi, Tim and Sunny Chang serve a Shochu Yuzu Lemon Drop, Shochu Moscow Mule, and Peach Shochu Cocktail to guests.

Soju
Soju is often used as a low-alcohol celebratory drink, like a Japanese tequila, and it is ranked as the world’s best-selling liquor. Made with sweet potatoes, wheat, or tapioca, the distilled spirit comes in a variety of flavors and aromas. Like many Asian liquors, soju doesn’t have one purpose. Harry Yu, owner of Mikasa and Midori, says you can drink it on the rocks, straight up, or mix it into cocktails. The ABV typically falls under 24 percent so it can be classified as a beer/wine in California. Hailed as the National Drink of South Korea, there are a lot of customs that come with drinking soju. Many will take it as a shot, chilled, but if you’re keeping with tradition you may be forbidden from pouring your own shot.


Drink Up:
Mikasa Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar

2610 S. Tracy Blvd., Tracy
(209) 830-8288
MikasaBistro.com

Midori Fine Asian Cuisine
2541 Naglee Rd., Tracy
(209) 835-8882

Komachi Sushi
307 S. Lower Sacramento Rd., Lodi
(209) 334-3131
SushiKomachi.com

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